Cummings: Barr acting like 'defense counsel' for Trump rather than AG

Cummings: Barr acting like 'defense counsel' for Trump rather than AG
© Greg Nash

House Oversight and Reform Committee Chairman Elijah CummingsElijah Eugene CummingsFormer Cummings staffer unveils congressional bid McCarthy, GOP face a delicate dance on Jan. 6 committee Five big questions about the Jan. 6 select committee MORE (D-Md.) on Sunday accused Attorney General William BarrBill BarrTrump called acting attorney general almost daily to push election voter fraud claim: report Highest-ranking GOP assemblyman in WI against another audit of 2020 vote Native Americans are targets of voter suppression too MORE of acting as a "defense counsel" for President TrumpDonald TrumpBiden administration to keep Trump-era rule of turning away migrants during pandemic On The Money: Biden, Pelosi struggle with end of eviction ban | Trump attorney says he will fight release of tax returns Lack of transatlantic cooperation on trade threatens global climate change goals MORE rather than as U.S. attorney general.

“Mr. Barr is acting as the defense counsel for the president of the United States, when really, he's supposed to be our lawyer — the people's lawyer," Cummings said on CBS's "Face The Nation."

"I am appealing to Mr. Barr to please do the job you’re supposed to do … he bent over backwards to give this president the benefit of the doubt, he even expressed empathy with the fact that the president when he came was under pressure, well all presidents are under pressure,” he continued.

Cummings's remarks came after the Department of Justice on Thursday released a redacted version of special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerSenate Democrats urge Garland not to fight court order to release Trump obstruction memo Why a special counsel is guaranteed if Biden chooses Yates, Cuomo or Jones as AG Barr taps attorney investigating Russia probe origins as special counsel MORE's long-anticipated report to the public.

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The report laid out the findings of Mueller's investigation into Russian election interference and possible obstruction of justice by Trump. 

Barr, prior to the release of the redacted report, sent a letter to Congress detailing the Justice Department's top-level conclusions of Mueller's 22-month investigation.

In his four-page summary of the more than 400-page report, Barr wrote that the special counsel did not conclude there was coordination between Trump's campaign and Russia. Barr also stated in his letter that the special counsel's team did not reach a conclusion on obstruction of justice, adding that he and Deputy Attorney General Rod RosensteinRod RosensteinWashington still needs more transparency House Judiciary to probe DOJ's seizure of data from lawmakers, journalists The Hill's Morning Report - Biden-Putin meeting to dominate the week MORE decided not to pursue obstruction charges.

Barr was widely panned by congressional Democrats for giving a press conference before the report's public release on Thursday.

A group of House Democrats, including Cummings, had called for Barr to cancel the "inappropriate" conference, slamming it as a way to spin the findings of Mueller's investigation before the public had seen the full report.

Fox News anchor Chris Wallace on Thursday accused Barr of acting as a "counselor for the president," following Barr's press conference and the report's release.

"The attorney general seemed almost to be acting as the counselor for the defense, the counselor for the president, rather than the attorney general, talking about his motives, his emotions," he said.

Senator 2020 presidential candidate Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisMeghan McCain predicts DeSantis would put Harris 'in the ground' in 2024 matchup Honeymoon's over: Biden's record may have Americans demanding a divorce The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - CDC equates Delta to chickenpox in contagiousness MORE (D-Calif.) similarly said Barr was "more like Trump’s defense attorney than the nation’s Attorney General," citing Barr's press conference prior to the report's being made public.